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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Leaving kids home alone

The topic came up the other day, mostly related to a disagreement about how to spend the day and our ill-fated trip to the Seattle Art Museum, about what is an appropriate age when kids can be left home alone. I grew up a latch-key child. You see, when my father left and took my three brothers with him, it was just my mom and I left in a 6 bedroom house out in the burbs.

My mom had just started working as a nurse and I got out of school hours before she got home from work. So, I was given a key and dropped off via carpool (I went to a private Catholic school) and was left to my own devices until she came home. I was a little over 9-years-old. Eventually, that changed and I walked to my Dad's new house, which was only a few blocks away from school, and hung out with my brothers (they are all older than I ranging from 1 year to 6 years older) until my mom came and picked me up after work. I'm fairly certain this was an every day occurrence until I started 9th grade and walked to and from middle school back home.

Nine was definitely too young for me, and I remember being left alone when I was 8 as well, but that was occasional. Being home alone really was unnerving for me particularly since I didn't really have too many neighbors around to keep an eye out for me. I'm glad I had an alternative to go to after school as I really didn't enjoy being home alone in a huge house. It was scary for me and I spent the time totally unproductively, watching TV and eating crap. Well, not real crap, just junk.

When I look at my almost 8-year-old son today, I know he wouldn't be ready to be alone for that long day after day, but then again, he pretty much can operate on his own for hours on end without interacting with us. However, I think that's only because we are in the house and he feels comfortable because of that fact. On the other hand, I would also trust him to be alone for 30 minutes or an hour if I needed to go out and do something. This has never happened - I don't think I've ever even left him in the car alone for more than 3 minutes. So, I always wonder - what's appropriate?

Some states have laws about what the minimum age you can leave a child home alone is. Georgia makes it pretty clear what the law is. Between the ages of 9 and 12, you can leave a child alone for up to two hours. Age 12 and up, no more than 12 hours at a time. In South Carolina, there are no set laws, but officials say no child under 8 should be left alone. Other states have no set laws at all.

I found some statistics that were really interesting. The most recent U.S. Census report shows that 7 million of the nation's 38 million children ages 5 to 14 are left home alone regularly. For example:
  • 600,000 5- to 8-year-olds fend for themselves.
  • 3.4 million children are under the care of siblings.
  • The average time "home alone" is 6 hours per week.
  • Higher-income parents are more likely to leave kids unsupervised.

So, what about you? How old were your children when you left them home alone? Or, alternatively, how old will your children be when you plan on letting them stay alone?

How old were you when you were left home alone? I know it really depends on the child's personality, but are we over-cautious these days or has not much changed in the last 40 years?

42 comments:

Elea Carey said...

I started leaving my kids alone for half an hour at a time while we were staying a month in a village in Mexico. They were almost-6 and almost-9. I got them up in the morning and told them they had to get their own breakfast and then I took a walk. They did a pretty good job, and I know they fought less than they would have if I were there.

Paula said...

I think my son was probably between 9 and 10 the first time I ever left him alone just to run out to the store - probably 20 minutes total. As he got older and proved himself capable of taking care of himself more, I would leave him home for slightly longer periods of time. He was 11 when he first started coming home from school by himself (up until then he was in an extended day program) and is home about an hour to 90 minutes until I get home. He is 13 now and now will also babysit his 6yo sister on occasion for me as well.

I don't remember how old I was the first time I stayed home alone. I don't think it happened often since my mom didn't work and I also had 3 older sisters, plus an aunt and uncle who lived in the downstairs apartment in our duplex home. So, pretty much back then even if my mom did have to go out somewhere, my aunt was probably around and/or one of the neighbor moms whose kids I was probably already playing with outside.

Zeemaid said...

whoa that's a tough question. I have 3, aged from 7 down to 3. I can't imagine leaving them at home before 12 at the very least. I'm going to have a hard enough time letting my oldest walk to school down the block. Sigh.

Me said...

Hi there,
I was first left alone when I was in Grade 2 (7 years old) to take care of my newborn brother as Mum had to go to parent/teacher interviews and the baby was sleeping.
I never got a key to get into the house until I was in Year 8 (13 years old) though - Mum would make me sit on the back doorstep waiting for her to get home from picking up my brothers from school.

Bucky said...

My son just turned 11 a few weeks ago. Part of his new freedom/responsibility was that he gets to stay home alone for up to two hours. He's been home by himself for a few minutes here and there this past year, but now he can stay by himself for a longer time. He's very excited because (1) most all of his friends have been allowed to spend large amounts of time home alone for many years, and (2) he recently discovered the joys of masturbation so he is constantly encouraging me to go to the grocery store and take my time.

Oy. Puberty.

Robj98168 said...

I was also a latch key kid.. my mom worked dsy shift and dad worked nights.I was home alone from the time I was seven. For about an hour. Of course I knew the rules- don't let anybody inm no phone pranks. If I am in trouble there was a whole slew of neighbors who watched out for me. I don't know about these days, but it took a village to raise this kid.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh, Bucky. I can always count on you to add some spice to the comments.

Wretha said...

Of course every situation is different, but if I had to pick a number, I'd say 12. I remember being left on my own, with my younger sister at age 8 or 9, can't exactly remember, what I do remember is being afraid of what could go wrong. Fortunately that didn't last too long. At age 12, I was a latch key kid, along with my little sister, that was just fine, and was only for a couple of hours until my mom got home from work.

lifesmyjourney said...

I didn't leave my daughter home alone until she was 13 and that was specifically for 1 hour in day time, while I went to exercise. We both would be armed with cellphones and she'd have emergency numbers to call. Plus we lived in an apartment complex and neighbors (and help in case of emergency) was nearby. She'd work on her homework and said she'd barely realize I was gone. I myself wasn't left home alone much until I was much much older. A good benefit of being the youngest in a large family :D

Anonymous said...

My mom went back to work when I was 10 and then I was left alone after school with my brother who was 7. I remember calling to check in when we got home and then spending that time watching tv as we were not allowed to go outside. I can't imagine leaving my daughter alone till at least 11 or 12 but part of that is because she is an only, I would probably feel more comfortable if she had a sibling close in age. I think being alone for short periods at that age would be fine but I do worry about what would happen if something happened to me and I was delayed in some fashion. I think she would have to be 13 or 14 to deal with that.

Kate said...

I don't really remember how old I was when I started being left alone with my younger brother. Pretty young though.

As insane as it sounds, I started babysitting at age 11 for a family with four kids, including a two-week-old baby. This was almost a next door family, and the mom had me there for a week with her and the baby before she started leaving me alone. AND there were two neighbor moms home most of the time who were registered nurses that I could have called if anything happened. But still. Eleven? It seems stunning to me now.

But nothing bad ever happened. We lived in the country then; there just wasn't too much to worry about. Parents weren't white-knuckled about their kids. Helicopter parents hadn't yet come into vogue.

knutty knitter said...

I don't think I was left alone at all but that was because I had a stay at home mum and gran lived next door. That said - we played in the bottom field by ourselves until tea time most days.

I have just started leaving my 11 year old by himself but not with my 13 year old who I will happily leave by himself for an hour or so. Together they are trouble :) Anyhow gran lives next door and 11 would much rather go there leaving computer to 13 year old.

Same old same old - even to playing for hours outside alone :)

viv in nz

Luschka said...

I don't know about the last fourty years, but I was left looking after my brother and sister at age 6 upwards (for a couple of hours at a time, but my folks would be a couple of doors away at most). We lived on the Angolan border during the Angolan border war and I remember doing drills with them to see how long it would take me to get my 4yo sister and baby brother in to the bomb shelter. And people wonder why I'm such a serious person? Lol.

Don't know that I would do it myself though. Well, I KNOW that I had too much responsibility on me because I was the oldest and I won't do the same to my daughter.

TheSimplePoppy said...

I was a latchkey kid (off and on), along with my younger sister, from about age 7. At 10, my parents decided to homeschool us, my mom had another baby, and then went back to work part time. We watched that baby at ages 10 and 8, and the 3 more to come after that.

My daughter is almost 8, and this year we've started leaving her home very occasionally for no longer than an hour, usually less. She's really capable, feels fine about it and is naturally a cautious child. However, I haven't told ANYONE (in-laws) except my own mother because of the way our society freaks out about this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

was totally against the concept of latchkey kids, so she told my brother and I that she'd always be home when the bus came, and refused to give us a key to the house. Problem is, one thing would lead to another and she'd forget to come home (I also have a younger sister who was a toddler at the time) on time about 3 days out of 5. No key meant that we weren't home alone, we were locked out of the house. We got pretty good at breaking in to the house - mostly by stripping away the insulation from the windows and prying open the unlocked ones. Problem was, sometimes the windows were locked. Then I sat in the garage - there was usually a musty blanket I could wrap up in if it was cold. I vividly remember waiting in the garage until long after dark once. We lived in an upscale suburban neighborhood (1980's) with neighbors all around us - I could easily have gone to them, but I was ashamed to (dad was an alcoholic and the next door neighbor was the paramedic who helped pry him out of his car once or twice when he hit a tree. the neighbor's kids spread it around school and we were teased relentlessly - I was very hesitant to expose *anything* more untoward about our family). I don't remember this happening with my sister, only me and my brother - this means that I would have been 11 or less, since she's 6 years behind me in school and he's 3 years behind me in school. It's kind of amazing that nothing truly bad ever happened to us in those times.
My own kids are 5 and 3 now so they're a ways away from dealing with this. And, actually, the school bus won't even let my daughter off unless I'm standing there to hold her hand (can't even be waving from the door). I'm not sure what age I'll start leaving them for even a short period - we're just getting to the "you can play on the deck while I watch you and do the dishes" stage) but I'm certain that they'll have a key to the house long before I anticipate that they'll need it.

Suzanne/Clothworks said...

I would say that I was beyond a latch-key kid. My brother and I were "adventurers" and from the time I was 9 and my brother 7 we were on our own ever day during summer holidays and during the school year we were alone after school. However, that doesn't mean we were home. Us and the other kids that lived on the court with us would explore our neighbourhood woods, parks green spaces, and swimming pools. It's like we made it our personal mission to find every park. We were very comfortable at "home" and my parents always encouraged our sense of adventure so usually no problems. I remember my childhood with much fondness and fun but I can't believe that I was 9-seems a young sounding number.

But since I was babysitting newborns at age 11 what's the difference. Don't know that I would leave a newborn let alone with an 11 year old. Heck as an adult I have trouble sometimes with babies!

Oldnovice said...

My mom was a stay-at-home, so she was always there after school. She didn't pay all that much attention, but she was physically there, just doing her own thing.

My three had before-school and after-school care either at a daycare center, my parents' home, or a trusted friend's home until at least 11 years. Whether the case or not, it was my understanding that it was illegal to leave a child alone before the age of 11.

Anonymous said...

Another latchkey kid here - was responsible for getting home & being alone for a couple of hours after school since the age of seven.

I don't think my mother had many choices, but I'm sure I made it easier by being such a serious, mature & loner child (there was also history of alcohol & other abuse in my family - both parents - so I grew up pretty quickly). I was just so happy to be alone & *safe* for a while I'd never dare do anything to jeopardise that.

A few memories rankle from that time: I wasn't supposed to touch the stove, but I was also badgered for being "useless", ie not having a meal ready when she came home. I decided once I'd make jello and used the hottest water I could get by running the faucet & had it ready by the time she arrived. I thought it was pretty good, but she said it was awful & I should have known better & followed the directions & used boiling water - never mind that I wasn't to use the stove.

Unhappy times ... I never minded being left alone (actually, it was the best part of the day for me!), I totally understood that she needed to work certain hours & couldn't afford a babysitter & that I needed to "behave" - I got the whole pulling together as a family part. Never got over the "useless bane on her existence & her life would be so much better w/o me" part.

* Bleah *

I'm not sure there is a magic number - as I post this, I'm at least the third person to say I was left alone at age seven - but I know seven year olds who I would consider to be much too young.

I think it really does depend on the personality of the child and sometimes the needs of the family. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do; you don't tell, hope no one asks, and just get through.

And yes, as I write this, I can hear the gasps of horror going up all over ... but even looking back w thirty-year hindsight, I'm not sure what, if anything, could realistically be done differently in our situation.

Julie said...

This is an interesting discussion. I see (in my quick scan of the comments) no real reference to other countries and other cultures. I was always amazed, in the days when I still traveled, how resilient and independent children in other cultures were compared to us in North America. Even in other times we have treated our children differently just look at stories about wartime in Britain. Kids will be as independent as the culture expects them to be.
And then (don't get me started) there is home alone in our incredibly insular single family dwellings and home alone in a neighborhood where you actually know the names and situations of the folks you live next door to.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I was 9, my dad died and my mom worked. I kept busy because we lived on a farm and I had a horse and chores. But the worst thing, was being cold - we heated with wood (still do) and I had explicit instructions to not build a fire. Of course, we don't really live in a very cold climate in the PNW, but I still remember the house being cold, probably more a symptom of memories of my dad being there and having the house warm and missing him than it being an actual hardship.

Hippy Goodwife said...

I was 11 or 12. I hated it. I would come home and close all the blinds and lock all the doors. We lived in a very safe small town but I was still scared.

My 11 year old has been left alone ( and with his 5 year old brother) for short periods ( less than an hour)once in a while.

Bucky said...

What can I say, Crunchy C? I'd promise to be more respectable in future comments but we both know that isn't going to happen.

Julie, you bring up a good point about other cultures. I remember a trip to Ecuador a few years ago and I was stunned at all of the very young children roaming all over the city by themselves (well, in groups) without any adult supervision. It was somehow shocking to my perhaps overly protective American sensibilities.

Paige said...

My oldest is 12, and the rest are 7,6,and 5. I leave them at home under the care of the oldest, for short trips, such as to the bank or if I just need a few things from the store. We have left them home for a "date" in the afternoon, but never after dark. The most hours they spend home alone in a month is probably not more than 4. My guys are a joy to be around, and more often than not I LIKE having them with me to run errands. Another variation is to take the "littles" and leave the bigs home. That gives them time NOT supervising, but just time to play and hang out. At their age they're very self sufficient.
I wasn't left at home with my younger siblings until I was atleast 12, and that is probably why 12 was the "magic number" for us.

Kristijoy said...

no kids here, not sure what I would do.
But I was left alone probably around 8 or so with my siblings (younger) for errand running, never very long, by 11 I was babysitting my siblings and neighbors. I had my own little business with friends who also sat. in the 11-12 range.

All of Us said...

I think I was about 10 or so - I really don't remember. I do remember babysitting a newborn and three-year old at twelve.

My girls are 5 and 3 so I'm not quite there yet. I think it will depend on their maturity level and how comfortable they are with the idea.

I do let them play out in the yard by themselves. While unfenced our yard is fairly large (1/2 acre) and we live on a quiet dead-end street. They know to stay towards the back. I plan on letting them explore the woods and walk around the neighborhood by 7 or 8.

MaddyG said...

Hemingway used to leave his baby in the care of their cat so that he could go write in the cafes of Paris. Seriously! Or that's what he claims in A Moveable Feast.
When it comes to parenting, I ALWAYS ask myself "What would Hemingway do?(WWHD)" ; )

Old Wise One said...

You go with your motherly instincts and be prepared to live with the results. That is what I did with my kids.

This is coming not from 30 years law enforcement, but my years as latch key child. The crap I got into and still turned out OK - for the most part!

Mike
Baton Rouge

Anonymous said...

I have a five year old and, as we live in a really violent city, I don't imagine leaving him alone before he's 12 or 13 at the earliest. I also believe kids need a fair amount of real attention from their parents, as much as possible. I have several neighbors who let their 5-6 year olds run around the neighborhood on their own and my husband and I have often prevented them from doing some really stupid things.

Holly said...

I was a latchkey kid with a single working mom from as far back as I can remember. At least 7 or 8.
But as for my own kids who are 4, 7 & 9, I never leave them alone. I get too nervous, even with the older one. But last fall when we visited in-laws in small town El Salvador I (nervously) would let my 9 year walk the neighborhood with her cousin to run errands for their grandmother.
http://amayakind.blogspot.com/2009/12/9-year-olds-freedom-fest.html The cousin had been doing this since she was 5 so no one understood why I was hesitant. But where we live in Albuquerque, a safe neighborhood, I don't let my kids walk the 1/2 mile to and from school alone. Go figure. Recently war torn third world country vs. safe US neighborhood.... hmmmm.

I'm not sure about New Mexico, as we are relatively new residents here (and they don't seem to have any laws, simply suggestions to follow if that), but Virginia where we were has pretty clear laws about how old children can be before being left home alone, for what age and the time limits depending on age.

Prairiemom said...

This was a very timely post. I just learned that the kindergartner that my son plays with has been left alone before. I was mortified. There is no way I would ever leave my child alone at that age. He is 7 and I am just now letting him ride his bike around the block!

I remember being responsible for getting my baby sister and I ready for school and out the door in 5th grade ( she was in 1st) I'm not sure if I was left with her before that or not. At that age we were left alone for 8 hours a day in the summer time while my mother worked. It was great fun, we got into all kinds of trouble.
I am blessed to be a stay at home mom, so I won't have to worry about that for my children.

Bullwinkle said...

My sister and I were never left home alone. (Extenuating circumstances - disabled younger brother, hard to manage.) I was babysitting for people's children before I was ever home alone.

That said - we (my sister and I) had total freedom of movement outside the house - from first grade on. (Come home when the streetlights come on.) Bikes took us much further than I would consider safe now. (And we didn't have cell phones.)

I guess there are places we knew weren't safe/child/bike friendly but it really wasn't an issue. We were boarderline suburban/rural.

I remember checking in after elementary school and then disappearing until dinner. In good weather, I was gone again.

By high school - I didn't even come home until dinner. (No, I wasn't getting into trouble - the library for homework, hanging out somewhere, true after-school activities...)

eatclosetohome said...

12 was considered the age one could begin babysitting when I was growing up (mid-80s). So I'm sure it was ok to be home alone before the age of 12.

Elisabeth said...

I had a similar conversation with a friend only yesterday. We've been best friends for over twenty years now, since we were six, and she just had her first child. We were discussing whether she would allow her daughter the same freedoms we had as children.

My father was a latch-key kid from the age of five. He was (by far) the youngest of six and found it quite lonely. I think because of his experience, he never wanted us to feel alone like he did. So for my parents, I think the issue was more about how they viewed our happiness than how trustworthy they considered us.

I was lucky to have a stay at home mom. I wasn't left alone really until I was ten or eleven, and then I always had my younger brother or other kids for company. When my mom would leave, she'd tell us to call or go to one of the neighbors if we needed anything. And I think most of the time she'd ask a neighbor to keep an eye on us.

On the other hand, like Bullwinkle, we had total freedom outside the house. From the age of six or seven, my brother and I would roam the neighborhood, park, woods, and creek. My mother's rule was that we had to be in at dusk. We did live in a very tight-knit community and were close with most the neighbors. My friend that I mentioned lived in the country and we would wander for miles from her house.

I don't have children yet, but would love to give them the same freedom of adventure and play that I had growing up. I know my community played a huge role. (My brother and I always pitied the few kids who were only allowed to ride their bike to the end of the street and back.)

Anonymous said...

I was an occasional latch key kid from age 5 on. My mom stayed at home, but sometimes she and my siblings would be off someplace for whatever reason. I LOVED being home alone, but the problem was that I had a lot of trouble unlocking doors as a kid. I recall crawling in through the dog door. I was supposed to go to the neighbors if I couldn't get the door unlocked, but I was really embarrassed about my inability to use keys.

My favorite thing to do with the house to myself was to do all of the stuff that my parents told me not to do. So that is maybe an argument against leaving a 5yo alone.

My mom started leaving me alone to watch my younger brother when I was about 7, and I started babysitting other people's kids when I was 10. This was about 20 years ago. I got paid $1 an hour (my mother set this price, which was REALLY cheap even then for babysitting) and I regularly babysat for families of multiple children, ranging from newborn to about 7. I remember babysitting for one woman who was a single mom. I had to stay overnight with her kids several times b/c she worked nights. One night, her scary ex-husband showed up and tried to break into the house. I was absolutely terrified. I gathered the kids into the kitchen, got a butcher knife out of the drawer, and called first 911and then my father. My dad got there first, which was probably lucky for the kids' mom since it may have been illegal to leave a 10yo alone with your kids overnight- not sure.

For my own kids, I would follow whatever the law is at the relevant time, and after that, it would really depend on the kid. Some sixteen year olds shouldn't be left alone, some nine year olds are fine.

Manda said...

Well i think my parents followed the laws on these ones. In NZ a kid can be by themselves from age 12 and can babysit other from 14. I was left on my own for small amounts of time from younger but with 2 older sisters it didn't happen often. Started babysitting my lil bro from 14 although if my parents knew how much we fought back then they wouldn't have let me, he was 4yrs younger and oh the bruises, tears and screaming that occurred around the age of 15. Fun and games. I think it should be a case by case basis, if they are capable and comfortable then why not?

susanna eve said...

I don't know what age I was when I was left home alone but at age 7 I was taking the subway in Toronto by myself, far riskier than being home alone in the nice residential neighbourhood I grew up in. I don't know at what age I started leaving my older kids home alone but the younger boys were certainly younger than 10 which is the age okayed by the law here in Nova Scotia. My third son hated being dragged along on errands and started staying home by himself for short periods of time from the age of 7 or 8.

Lil said...

I remember coming back home from school on my own before I was 11. I took the bus, and had a bit of walking to get home (we lived in town). I then stayed home alone for a few hours until my mom came back from work. And you know what ? I loved this alone time. I indeed ate junk food and watched tv, but I also did a large amount of silly things like burning things in pans (yes, I know, my mom freaked out when I told her... just a few years ago ;)! ), or singing loudly or just feeling so free and grown-up. Truth is it made me very aware of risks (my parents briefed me regularly about the "bad guys" and others I could encounter and how to react, in a few words it was "give them whatever they ask for, but if they touch you, scream and run !"), very responsible. And I didn't even had a cell phone ! I just called my mom when I got home so she knew I didn't have any problem.
It all went well, I wonder if now parents are not a tad overprotective ?

Haazegirl said...

The first few times I've left my oldest son at home alone were kind of accidental. I would be out running errands in a neighboring town and get held up for some reason. He is 8, and I would call on my cell phone and tell him to play wii which is a special treat, and I would be home in 15 minutes. It was a nice way to break him in, we've left phone numbers and he's called. One day we were in a farm meeting and school was canceled he used dad's cell phone to call me, and I was horrified, but he knew just what to do! I'm thinking of making these breaks longer every once in a while, it's not often that his little brother isn't around though. I must have been 9 when I was home alone for extended periods of time, and by 10 I was a true latch key kid. Parents divorced and mom working mega hours, I'm glad it doesn't have to be that way for my kids, but I do want them to have some of that experience.

Noel and Jason said...

Very timely discussion for me, too. Last week I left my 6 year old son (almost 7, ending first grade) home alone for the first time for less than 15 minutes waiting for Dad to get home to take him to swim team. I had to leave to take my younger son to his activity on time. We discussed it with him and prepared him well beforehand (and he chose to use his 15 minutes of liberty to watch TV, heh. I would have preferred he read a book, but hey it was his choice!) Anyway, I mentioned this milestone to another swim team mom and apparently she later discussed it with her husband and they are incredulous. Yesterday she offered for me to drop him off at her house and she would bring him to swim team with her kids. A kind offer, sure, but the thing is, not only am I comfortable leaving him alone for half an hour, with a parent on the way and reachable by cell phone, with our neighbors all around... I think it's important to allow him these little experiences to build up his self-assurance and responsibility over time. I think it's irresponsible as parents to wait until a child is 12 (!!) to leave them alone for any length of time unless that child cannot be trusted at all. Of course the right age depends on the child (my younger son will be older before I try it, for example) but I think taking baby steps earlier rather than later is better preparation for life.

Interestingly, my son's best friend is Italian and spends his summers in Italy and Switzerland. His mom would leave him alone when he was newly 6 for a half hour or so - but only in Europe. She is too afraid to do it in the States, not for safety concerns but for fear of persecution/prosecution. Nuts!

Mailey Smith said...

I have a 14 year old daughter, and I started leaving her alone in our house when she was 12. I’m confident in leaving her alone at home because she is already mature and responsible enough to take care of herself, and also I registered her to SafeKidZone application so that whenever she needs help, or she is in an emergency situation she can summon and ask for an immediate response from trusted friends, family, me and the nearest 911 in our area. This is the protection I provide to my kids: http://safekidzone.com/

lisa said...

I got as far as Bucky's statement and, deciding it was sound advice, stopped there. haha!

My oldest is 9 (10 in Jan) and I can't imagine leaving him home. But I think within a couple of years he will be right where Bucky's son is and I will be doing a lot more alone grocery shopping. haha!

I don't remember my own parents Ever leaving me alone. Maybe because we didn't really interact. Maybe mom Did go to the store. ha! I know, though it wasn't until I was at least 11 or 12. But did it matter? I was allowed to go wherever I wanted when I left the house. ha

LisaZ said...

I was home alone, babysitting my younger brothers including an infant, from age 7 or 8 if not earlier. I was very responsible--or maybe not, because now that I think of it half the time I had no idea where my brothers were. We ran all over the neighborhood all the time! I think of those days with great fondness, though I didn't like having the responsibility all the time. When I didn't like being alone, actually, was when I got older--teen years and I was lonely and really would have liked my mom to be home more. And don't get me started on those after-school hours in high school, with members of the opposite sex!

For our kids, we left them home for short periods starting at age 9 or so. Maybe even younger. We don't go far, usually out to a restaurant less than 2 miles away, and no further than a 1/2 hour's drive. The Red Cross does babysitting training for kids age 12 and up, so my 12-year old daughter took their class and now babysits other people's kids in their homes. Parents are THRILLED to have her! I don't let her sit for any kids under age one, however. But by the time she's maybe 14, I think that would be okay.

It seems odd not to trust your kid to be home alone, but then suddenly at age 12 not only can they be home alone they can babysit other people's kids! I think kids need to learn they can do things, and they don't need to be afraid.

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